Need a hotel for your next trip? It's easy to search and book hotels online, but there are so many hotel booking sites and so much information that it can feel like a blessing and a curse.
I felt totally overwhelmed when I first searched for hotels for our trip to Japan. Tokyo has thousands of hotels and many of them are different from what I'm used to in the United States. It took time and a few different websites to choose the best locations, understand my options, and find the best hotels for my family.
But when you find the right hotel for the right price, and your trip is everything you hoped it would be… it's all worth it!
There is no single site that is the best for EVERY trip. Some travel websites deliver better results in certain parts of the world or for certain types of trips. And the site that was #1 a few years ago might not still be the best today. It's smart to try a few different hotel booking sites if getting the best selection and the best price is important to you.
It's also smart to stick with reputable websites. Your hotel is one of the biggest and most important expenses of the trip. Don't trust just any hotel booking site.
Here are my favorite hotel booking sites, and why I like them. Whether you are looking for new ideas or confirmation that your favorite site is a good choice, hopefully, you'll find that on this list. Add a couple of these sites to your travel toolbox next time you book a hotel.
Official Hotel Website
This is usually my first choice. I search for hotels on one of these other websites and then go to the official website to book. Here's why.
- Many hotels guarantee the lowest price on their own website.
- The hotel website probably has the most options – including deals and packages.
- Less risk – if something goes wrong, it's easier for the hotel to help you.
Hoping for a free room upgrade? The front desk staff can sometimes make last-minute room changes when you book directly. When you pay a third party for a specific room type, I've found that the front desk usually can't make any changes.
And if something goes wrong (it rarely does), the front desk staff can't do much to help you if you book through a third party. You will need to contact the website's customer service for help.
Sign up for loyalty programs like Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy. You'll earn points and perks – like free Wifi – with every stay. You can usually sign up when you book or at check-in.
Expedia.com has been delivering hotel deals for 20+ years and it's still a solid choice when you are shopping for a hotel. My favorite feature on Expedia is that it shows the total price, including taxes and fees, on the first search page. That helps me find the best hotel for my budget faster.
We have recently booked through Expedia twice because the Expedia price was better than the price on the hotel's official website.
Booking.com is often where I start my search because it delivers a lot of options, including apartments and homes. It's a solid choice for booking your hotel.
I like the reviews on Booking.com because they are all real customers. This is not the case on every hotel booking site. When you read reviews on any website, it's nice to see a lot of recent reviews.
Don't get hung up on a single positive or negative review. Instead, look for patterns – when multiple customers say the same thing – to get an idea of what to expect at a hotel.
Agoda.com is a good site for booking hotels anywhere, but I've found it especially helpful for our trip to Japan. Agoda is easy to use and its rates are better than every other hotel search engine I've seen for this trip.
I found it difficult to use official hotel websites translated from Japanese to English, so sites like Agoda have made planning this trip a lot easier for me. Agoda has delivered the rooms I want for the best price.
Priceline.com is a good option when you want a good deal on a good hotel and you aren't picky about the details. Like other search engines, Priceline will show you rates for named hotels. But you'll get the best rates when you choose Priceline's Express Deals and Pricebreakers – where you don't know the name of the hotel until you book.
Read the fine print before you commit, but you could get an amazing deal on a luxury hotel on Priceline. Hotwire.com is a lot like Priceline and I like that site too.
GetAwayToday.com is a small, family-owned travel agency that has become a national leader in Disney and Southern California trips. If you want to go to Disneyland, I strongly recommend Get Away Today.
Get Away Today has been working directly with hotels near Disneyland for nearly 30 years and they have deals that you won't see anywhere else. When you buy your Disneyland tickets and hotel together in a vacation package, Get Away Today has a low-price guarantee. If you find a better price anywhere else for the same package, Get Away Today will beat it.
Search the search engines
Want to see the best price from Expedia, Agoda, Priceline, and the other big online travel agencies all in one place? These websites search the search engines and show you the best prices for all of them. Any of these websites is a good place to start when you are searching for a hotel.
It's a good idea to keep a few different hotel booking sites in your “travel toolbox.” Some websites are better than others for different destinations. And don't forget the hotel's official website. It's often the best place to book.
I hope that our experience helps your family plan a great vacation and that one of these websites helps you find a great hotel for a great price.